If you have fibromyalgia, research is beginning to show that high levels of caffeine consumption could exacerbate or worsen your pain symptoms. Here’s what you should know about fibromyalgia and caffeine.

According to data presented at a meeting of the American Pain Society, drinking four or more cups of coffee a day is significantly associated with increased pain severity in fibromyalgia patients.

Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, but it is also often accompanied by fatigue and sleep problems. While these problems can easily drive people to reach for the coffee or soda, this approach can have harmful effects on health.

Caffeine is a central nervous stimulant that causes a spike in energy after taking it. Unfortunately, that spike is followed by a drop-off of energy, headaches, and altered sleep patterns. Disordered or missing sleep then leads to worse fatigue and pain later on. Caffeine intake can quickly become a vicious cycle of highs and lows for fibromyalgia patients.

Excessive caffeine intake can also cause:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle tremors
  • Depression

If you cut off the caffeine after a long history of taking it, you’ll also likely face headaches, drowsiness, irritability, nausea, and vomiting due to withdrawal.

Because of these effects, fibromyalgia sufferers should try to avoid or limit the amount of caffeine they take. Caffeine doesn’t only exist in coffee either. It is also present in many teas, sodas, chocolate, energy drinks, supplements, over-the-counter diet pills, and other medications, such as Excedrin.

If you do take caffeine, only take it earlier in the day and in small doses. The American Pain Society study found little evidence of elevated pain levels with low to moderate consumption of caffeine during the day. Low to moderate is characterized as anything less than four cups a day.

Fibromyalgia and caffeine intake can have harmful effects on your health and current pain levels. By only making a few small adjustments, such as drinking hot herbal tea instead of coffee or drinking decaf coffee, you can begin to take more control over your own pain levels and quality of life.

Watch this Report on the Link Between Fibromyalgia and Caffeine Intake

How much caffeine do you have every day? How could you limit your own intake? 

Image by Andres Nieto Porras via Flickr